The New Woman in Society

The New Woman must have been a revolutionary concept in the 1890s, yet it also brings to mind revolutionary movements and moments from further in the future. It is interesting that this sentiment continues to this day, as there continue to be stories told of women gaining and using agency in the present day. Women still must advocate for power and equality in many ways, although a lot of agency has already been gained throughout the years. Nowadays I think it would be seen as a wonderful thing for Ella D’Arcy to write “At Twickenham,” because it points out the futility of acting in a passive way and the new, exciting direction to take in acting with more passion and energy through life. Society has come a long way, and now we can go so far as to completely subvert men’s and women’s roles, although the traditional roles still have a hold on society. Subversion is a highly effective tool to use in highlighting the absurdity of certain values or behaviours in society, or just bringing them to the awareness of the public. This tool is also seen in Evelyn Sharp’s “The Restless River.” I find the most interesting aspect of “At Twickenham” to be Matheson’s progressive idea of wanting a passionate rather than passive woman. This must have been highly unusual for the time – or, conversely, perhaps many men felt this way and were satisfied to see women portrayed in a more active way in literature. I also find the women in the images existing for themselves and not for the male gaze to be powerful and an important step forward.

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